Well, this is exciting! Dharma Trading Company is one of the companies I’ve purchased art and merchandise materials from for over 20 years, including the white/natural blanks for tees and tote bags as well as the dyes and inks and paints I use in many of my printed works. I submitted my tiles for a featured artist profile and it was accepted and published.
Last year as I was working out the use of fabric transfers to create tiles I spoke with their customer service department more than once about materials. Reading reviews from users can be interesting, but nowhere near as accurate and informative as talking to a professional who has used the product in various ways as well as many other products the company sells. Purchasing materials for a project that may not work isn’t something I want to do, though it happens now and then, just because expenses are tight and I’d rather know as much as possible about the products before I start; this alone has moved me in a better direction with advice from their professionals.
Because I was considering a non-standard use of their commercial quality fabric transfers they couldn’t tell me how my idea would work, but they did give me guidelines and details about how the products worked in various circumstances. That wonderful representative was the one who encouraged me to submit to their featured artist section because no one had reported doing anything like that with the transfers and their artists could have a whole new technique to read about. So I did!
It’s not the most exciting reading because it’s a detailed explanation of the process that a maker could pick up and use, “Opaque Fabric Transfers on Polymer Clay for Tiles, Pins, Magnets and More“, but hey, maybe you want to do this too! Click the title above, or the image at the top of the post, to read more.
I was also featured on their site once before, in 2010, when I wrote up my process for block printing on tees and textiles and hand-tinting the prints. I purchased the inks, dyes to tint, and the garments from them, and back in 2001 when I planned “The Goddess” and “The Roundest Eyes” I began with prints on paper but also knew I wanted to move on to garments, and the accessibility of quality products and information from them was key. I also created and printed other block print designs using the same materials: “Yes?”, “Landing”, “Whale Tail” and “Puget Sound”—see the Hand-printed Art, Housewares and Apparel page on www.PortraitsOfAnimals.net.
More about the tiles
Working from the tiles I made several months ago, I’ve made new feline tile designs in new sizes, shapes and styles featuring some of my favorite feline artwork for you to enjoy, to use to set down your iced tea or coffee, protect and decorate a countertop or hang on a wall like small paintings.
They are made of white polymer clay rolled thin with my artwork transferred onto the surface with clear details and bright colors. Because they are handmade and shaping, stamping and drying changes their dimensions, they are not uniform in size, shape or thickness, but that makes each one unique.
I really love the look of a tile where the art runs from edge to edge, but I discovered with the last group that set me up for a number of disappointments. Keeping the art transfer in exactly the right place to fill edge to edge and keep it straight was nearly impossible. That gave me little uneven snips of white clay here and there, and where the transfer overlapped the edge it gave me a messy, uneven and sometimes puckered area. And often the transfer itself would stretch near the edges and distort the art, or sometimes overheat and peel off.
To a certain extent I can trim the tiles, but that’s a lot of extra time and has its own issues. Ending up with tiles that aren’t neat and clear enough to sell gives me a bunch to use around the house, but that’s not the goal of my business.
So I decided I could live with a border of white clay around the art, and that’s the way these tiles are made. The clay stretches and shrinks a bit as it bakes, but for the most part the tiles are all square and all the edges are neat. That makes me happy, and it makes for a better product.
Each square tile is about 4″ square and about 1/4″ thick. I used a rolling cutter for ceramic clay which gave me a 1/4″ sloped edge around the 4″ image area. I like it for this set, and one advantage is that the increased contact on a surface seems to make it more stable and keeps it in place. I will continue to look for a 4″ square cutter that I can use like a cookie cutter…or maybe I’ll just make my own like the “Sitting Pretty” cookie cutter I made earlier in June.
I made a few ovals last time, and even then I’d envisioned a larger decorative tile to really show off the artwork in both ovals and circles. The issue here was a cutter for these shapes as well. The cutting edge had to be thin enough to cut through the clay and not just flatten out clay around the shape, which makes for a messy edge and sometimes a lumpy edge. I scoured thrift shops and dollar stores looking for containers in the right size with the right edge.
For the circles I ended up using one of my stainless steel bowls because the edge was thin enough to cut the clay without dragging out the edge all around, and that’s exciting because I have an almost unlimited number of circle sizes to work with. This circle is about 5″ in diameter.
The oval was impossible to find. I like a rounded oval, not elongated, with nice rounded ends and an arched top and bottom. What I found in containers were either football shaped or with flattened top and bottom. Earlier this spring I used a lid from a large round plastic ice cream container that was about an inch tall with a thin bottom edge and no vertical supports in the edge, I cut an X into the top, then shaped it by pulling two edges toward each other, pushing the other to edges out. When I reached the shape I liked I laid tape all over inside of the shape to hold it together, then later added two pieces of lightweight wood to help it hold the shape. This oval is 5″ x 7″ and it’s exactly what I had in mind for the larger decorative piece. One thing that may or may not be a drawback is that it’s a little floppy when held in the air, though it lies perfectly flat on a flat surface. I’ll see what people think, and in the future I may make them thicker so they hold their shape better.
Now that I’ve made all the feline tile designs, I have to make some flower tiles too! And then to make 4″ round coasters too.
NOTES ON USE:
- These are not safe for use with food.
- These work great as a coaster for items filled with hot food or liquids, like mugs of coffee or tea or dishes filled with cooked food. There is not enough heat transferred to affect the polymer.
- They cannot be used with items taken out of the oven or microwave or off the stove, any item which has been heated by cooking—the polymer will soften from the heat.
And a special discount on two tiles
I add $5.00 shipping to my retail price of each item, but it costs about the same to ship two or three tiles as it does to ship one, and I also have a discount from the retail price for purchasing three or more tiles.
Purchase 2 tiles 4″ x 4″ for $25.00, use discount code 2TILES25
Visit my gallery of tiles
Create a matching gift set with a greeting card or gift bag, and more.
Not only can you purchase the tiles in these patterns, but often you can also purchase a keepsake, greeting card or a gift bag in some of the designs to make a nice little set. You can often find other gift items with these designs as well, such as jewelry, magnets, tote bags and more. Click the links to other galleries below, or use the keyword search box with the name of the design to bring up all posts where that design is featured or included.
See greeting cards.
See keepsake boxes.
See other tiles and coasters.
See similar artwork.
Visit my gallery of Feline Artwork.
How’s that for a commentary? Giuseppe checks the tiles as they cool on my washer.
Take a look at other new merchandise and featured artwork.
Marketplace is a feature on The Creative Cat to share the latest coming out of my studio with my readers. Once a week on Thursday I feature something new in my “shop”.
Read about creating custom items
Find out more about creating custom items for your own home using the images you see here. Visit the “Ordering Custom Art” page to see samples and read bout how to order.
Find out about events and festivals where you can find me and my work.
Sign up for my e-newsletter (below), check the widget on the sidebar on my home page, or sign up to receive posts on Portraits of Animals Marketplace. I plan on plenty of events this coming summer in the Pittsburgh area.
It’s all done under the close and careful supervision of my studio cats!
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!
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